It was certainly a turbulent year in the entertainment business as 2016 saw the passing of numerous stars. Bowie left us, then Alan Rickman and the list went on with Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds passing just days apart. While they have moved on to whatever the next stage may bring, we will always have them on film. Music and movies are two things that can bring people together so take a moment to remember those we admired while continuing to enjoy to the films we loved in 2016. Keep in mind this is not a list of the most artistic films of the year, just my personal favorites as well as a few that had me squirming in my seat in boredom.
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It’s been a while since I amassed a favorite Blu-rays of the the year list. There was one final title I wanted to check out before concocting my ten favorites. I enjoyed Suicide Squad in the theater earlier this year, but just in case I enjoyed it even more after a second viewing, I had to see if it was going to make my list. It did not. While entertaining, it just doesn’t possess greatness, but I digress. Alright, enough rambling. It was all for the sake of filling space here in the opening paragraph anyway. I’ve kept Hollywood holding its breath long enough. Onto the list!
I remember it like it was only a few years ago. It was 1982 and for my fifth birthday I received the Masters of the Universe figure that I was hoping for; Stratos. The jetpack-strapped, goggle-wearing birdman delighted my little childhood mind like only a He-Man figure could, as he would enter the foray in the imaginative fight against Skeletor and his evil minions. As time went on and I grew older, it was through some parental encouragement that had me peddling my collection at garage sales over time. Three words. Oh, the regret. Though I’ve long since outgrown the cartoon and playtime with these figures, it almost feels as if this band of unique heroes and villains have been lost to toy history. That is until now when a team of veteran filmmakers seek to bring all this nostalgia back into our lives.
I’m a bagpiper. Yeah I know, what the heck does that have to do with comic books, right? Bear with me as there’s a point to this. In the bagpiper community, we have a running joke as to how the rest of the world views our music. It goes something like this, “There are three tunes played on the bagpipes; Scotland the Brave, Amazing Grace and everything else.” That stereotype likely came about due to how so many tunes sound alike on the instrument. The same can be said of comic book publishers to the layman. There are three names in the comic book publishing world; Marvel, DC and everyone else. However, that ‘everyone else’ group puts out some of the most incredible stories in the genre.
This year I probably got to see the least amount of films I wanted to at the theater. Such is the case with a full schedule of work, school and an Irish dance show. So what did the year bring us? We got revisits from popular franchises like Mission Impossible and Avengers, though for only the second in the series, Avengers: Age of Ultron felt tired and rather boring. Meanwhile, Tom Cruise keeps chugging away putting out better spy films than the famed Bond series. As for the bottom feeders, although I did miss out on the often criticized Fantastic Four reboot, I do have plenty to talk about as far as the duds that hit cinemas this past year. Without further fluff and rambling dialogue, I give you my best and worst of 2015.
Where comedy and drama are more universal categories, the documentary can be somewhat polarizing depending on the subject matter. In 1980, the USA Olympic Hockey team defeated the Soviet Red Army team for a shot at the gold medal game. This was not simply a grand moment in sports. It was democracy defeating communism. It was David, in the form of a team of college kids, defeating Goliath (professional-aged players with years of chemistry together). The documentary Red Army chronicles this event, but does so from the unique and previously unheard perspective of the Russian players. However, the content is not merely limited to the Olympic upset. Read on to discover the full attributes of this very immersive film. Continue reading ‘Red Army (Blu-ray Review)’
Over half a decade ago, Irish singer Liz Madden made her Why So Blu debut, discussing her then new album Going Home. Liz has since built on her successful resume’ of releases, with 2015 being the launch pad for her latest album, Legacy. With each new release, Madden always finds ways to subtly separate the feel of each work from the last. Legacy proves no different.
I had one final film to see before I felt I could compile an accurate list for the recently departed 2014. Boyhood was a popular title amongst my fellow writers here, though that wasn’t showing in my area, thus escaping my viewing grasp. Gone Girl came highly recommended though the trailer never attracted my interest enough to shell out money for the movie. The film in question, however, was The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. After thoroughly enjoying last year’s Desolation of Smaug, I must admit that Five Armies ended up being a bit of a disappointment. It was not a bad film, but it certainly did not soar either. So, to my list it did not make. With Tolkien’s tales at a cinematic close and Gone Girl gone from the cinema, I present you with my top ten films of the year as well as a couple notables.
Oh yes, there were many more than five, and I’m sure Tammy was one of them, but I did not have any hope for that anyway. The following five films were works I had gone into with an open mind and wide eyes. In hindsight, they were wallet vacuums, stealing my money on account that someone responsible for them thought they were putting out a good product. I’ve got all the bases covered here too; comedy, family, action, etc. Most of all though, these five movies delivered boredom more than anything else.
What an interesting year we had as it presented us with plenty of ammo at both ends of the quality spectrum. We had the horridness known as Machete Kills, as well as the brilliance of films such as J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek sequel. It was also another year of super heroes. Some arrived from the pages of Marvel hoping to smash evil, while others came with a glove and a jersey hoping to smash barriers. Before we hit the rest of the list though, it is important to note there are a few significant films that escaped my grasp in 2013. For starters, I was not able to see The Wolf of Wall Street, Fruitvale Station, Anchorman 2 or Her. I’m sure Wolf would make a strong case for being on my list, so that one was a bummer not to catch in time. Her, while it doesn’t look like my cup of tea, does have Joaquin Phoenix who is pretty incredible in front of the camera. Unfortunately, there are only so many hours in a week. So without further ado and endless jibber jabber, I present to you my top 10 favorite films of 2013.
There were plenty of great releases that arrived on store shelves this year, but let’s be honest. Will any year really compare to what came out in 2012? I mean, last year for Blu-rays was like what 1939 was for cinemas. It was only twelve months ago when the year’s releases included E.T., Jaws, Singin’ in the Rain and Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures. I may be starting this article off on the wrong foot, but last year was just too awesome to not tip the hat to again. While 2013 may not be loaded up with the classics that last year had, there are still more than enough great releases to load up your shopping cart with. Let’s get to it!
Super heroes and regular humans alike had their work cut out for them in 2013. The DC universe witnessed the advent of the Forever Evil storyline that saw everyone’s favorite do-gooders beat down and removed from the picture (temporarily anyway). Marvel is experiencing the return of Galactus, so you can bet earth is on his menu again. Meanwhile, The Walking Dead delivered its consistently high quality storyline of survival amidst a world of zombie fodder. But with all the awesomeness that filled the comic book landscape of this year, which ones are deserving of being the best in their class?
Before we get to the Why So Blu staff picks for favorite films of 2013 next month, I thought now would be a good time to write that negative-Nancy article on the other side of the coin. Okay, so I know we’re not even at Thanksgiving yet, but I figure there isn’t going to be a major dud in the next 40 days to make this list. This year had no shortage of disappointment at the cinema. There were films that let me down, like Iron Man 3 (also known as Normal Man 1), films that really stunk and almost made this list, like White House Down, and films that were just flat out rotten eggs, like…
It was to my dismay in recent days when I was home for lunch and found a black screen when I turned on Showtime. It wasn’t that moment that provided the maligned surprise as I’ll occasionally get the same black screen when I turn on ESPN at times. This is usually corrected by waiting a minute or so, or going to another channel, then flipping back, except this time, flipping back did not provide the desired effect. Instead, I was introduced to this message of doom…
Comic books can be a thing of beauty, even in their darkest tales. Unfortunately one issue plaguing them today is lack of originality. That is certainly not to say it’s an issue across the board as there are great, unique titles like Chew and Punk Rock Jesus. Still, store shelves are often lined with watered-down stories and titles that are mere carbon copies of one another. It wasn’t until very recently that I came across one particular story that caught my eye. I discovered it on everybody’s favorite project-launching platform; Kickstarter. While Kickstarter is where dreams can be made, this book itself goes much deeper than someone’s hope to see their work in print.
Where does one start with this film? If you’ve caught even the smallest fragment of critic talk on this picture, you know it’s been labeled as everything from star-studded to vulgar. The cast contains some of Hollywood’s most prominent names like Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Richard Gere, Naomi Watts and Kate Winslet just to name a few…and that’s literally just a few of the actors in the prominent cast. I made it a point not to look up the reasoning behind the film’s rather bland title, just to see if the film itself would unveil the mystery. It never did give that up, but where it kept quite on a title, it went all out everywhere else.
A co-worker first told me about this film some months back, of which I thought he was joking. When he persisted that there really was a Hansel & Gretel movie coming out, I made a mad dash to my phone and checked out the trailer. My initial thought was, “What’s this? The latest trend on the heels of Abe Lincoln hunting vampires? What’s next? Napoleon: Sasquatch Hunter?” The film’s preview didn’t exactly light my fire, but with Gemma Arterton and Jeremy Renner headlining the movie, I figured I’d give it a go.
It seems like the last time anybody was talking about genies in the mainstream, Disney was releasing Aladdin on Blu-ray. Well, the age-old Middle Eastern mythos is back, this time on the pages of Jinnrise, a new mini-series from IDW comics. The title brings forth a concoction of sci-fi with the wish-granting super beings in what intends to be a high octane collision course.